CHARLOTTE, N .C. — Cam Newton’s first in-person news conference at Bank of America Stadium since his return to the Carolina Panthers was more colorful than informative, but, as often is the case for the 32-year-old quarterback, it was entertaining.
It included a Clark Kent press pass tucked in his custom-made hat, a T-shirt changing his “I’m Back!” narrative to “We Back!” the promise to give 50 people who’ve never been to a game at BOA tickets for Sunday’s contest versus Washington and a moonwalk exit.
Yes, a moonwalk.
Newton did his best Michael Jackson dance interpretation Thursday by turning backward as he left the podium and gliding a few steps before disappearing with a big smile.
The Clark Kent press pass was self-explanatory, because Newton is known for doing the “Superman” celebration after touchdowns.
As for the T-shirt, it had the image of Newton screaming, “I’m Back!” on Sunday after scoring on a 2-yard run the first time he touched the ball. Only the “I’m” was scratched out and replaced by “We,” as in the Panthers are back.
̶I̶’̶M̶ ̶ WE BACK‼️ pic.twitter.com/l2Nly7zSFW
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 18, 2021
If his performance against Washington and former Carolina coach Ron Rivera is as entertaining, the Panthers should be in position to win.
“There’s no place I’d rather be on Sunday than Bank of America Stadium, because it will be a playoff atmosphere in more ways than one,” Newton said. “Let’s get back to getting that edge and bringing the pride back to Carolina how I once knew it to be.”
What Newton wouldn’t do was confirm that he will make his first start in his second stint with Carolina. Coach Matt Rhule said earlier in the week that’s the goal, but he hasn’t made it official.
“I don’t know,” said Newton, who scored two touchdowns in his eight plays in Sunday’s 34-10 win at Arizona, which came four days after he signed a one-year deal to finish the season. “Do you know? Exactly. What sense does that make? Me telling you sitting in front of millions and millions of people? I’m looking forward to the opportunity, no matter how great or small.”
Newton also wouldn’t talk about what it will mean to be back at BOA with Rivera, who made him the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft.
“Man, it’s not about us,” Newton said. “It’s not about him. It’s not about me. He knows how I feel about him. And he knows what it’s going to be on Sunday.”
Newton said he hopes it will be loud. That’s why he’s giving away 50 tickets to people that haven’t been to a game because ticket prices are so high. He figures that group at least will be passionate to cheer.
“I know how it can be,” Newton said of BOA, where the Panthers have lost three straight this season. “I’m talking about when everybody is pulling in the same direction, I know how it can cause confusion for the opposing opponents. When it’s described to me these days, I don’t hear that.
“I’m an action person. I know it’s going to take more than 50 people, but I want the people to know I am giving away an opportunity. I want people to understand, the fans to understand, we’re back, and it’s going to take a lot of people to jump on board to believe.”
At 5-5, if the playoffs started today, the Panthers would be the seventh seed in the NFC.
It’s Newton’s goal to get Carolina back to the level it was in 2015 when he directed an NFL-best 15-1 regular season and a trip to the Super Bowl. For that, he said, it’s going to take a collective effort.